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Being digital has to do with attitude, not knowledge

2017 ended with new years resolutions from Spanish companies to improve and adapt to the new digital environment.

However, these resolutions are still far from becoming a reality. Mainly because some positions of responsibility act under the bias of their previous experience in a radically different environment.

“We can not solve problems using the same reasoning that we used when we created them”, Albert Einstein.

To better understand this situation, let’s look at five mistakes, each one associated with a role or team that we have found  to be recurrent in many large Spanish companies.

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How will machines understand us in the future?

The concept of communication between humans and machines is a classic of science fiction, albeit a science fiction that seems to be almost within reach, with Siri, Alexa and other voice aides. But how did we get here?

There is a branch of Artificial Intelligence that has long studied how to make machines able to extract information from human language. This area is called Natural Language Processing or NLP.

In this post we will rely on the experience we have in Paradigma in Sentiment Analysis and we will illustrate the evolution of these technologies.

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Please, stand down from that digital directors’ seat

I just called my bank, but it has not been any odd call. I pick up the phone, it is not a strange or hidden number, it seems to be a normal mobile line. In spite of being the one who receives the call, on the other side, a pre-recorded voice tells me: “Hello, we will attend to you right away”, a second later: “Do not hang up, we will be with you immediately”.

This happens a couple of times more, but I endure as an interested observer, just for the pleasure of discovering new forms of mistreatment to the client.
Finally the machine seems to “connect” with someone on the other side, I hear a loud ambient noise with people talking in the background. I wait a couple of seconds, as nobody talks to me, I throw a couple of “hello?”. Nothing, two seconds later, I hang up.

Were we not in the customer era? All the Powerpoints of the world on digital transformation say so

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Metrics in Agile: your opinion is interesting, but… I have data

If you had data to predict what the winning number of the lottery would be, would you still choose a number because it looks pretty or ugly? In your projects you have data to predict and decide how to act based on empirical data, so flee from intuition.

Still today you hear phrases like “Scrum… isn’t that a hippy invention?”. These comments usually come from people accustomed to working according to traditional methods of software development, creating huge specification documents and intuitive planning, accustomed to seeing how those plans fail, to try to equate software development with the construction of a car or a building.

In an environment characterized by high uncertainty and constant and unpredictable changes, an empirical method must be used that, through constant deliveries, allows us to obtain the information and knowledge necessary to make decisions. This knowledge arises from the comparison between a hypothesis and the actual result obtained after delivery.

Therefore, the product strategy to be followed in Agile is to define an MVP (Minimum Viable Product), compare the results according to the pre-established strategic metrics (KPI’s), with the assumptions we have applied, correct them and re-iterate with the increase of knowledge obtained.

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The big lie of the Bimodal IT

The term Bimodal IT was created by Gartner and MckInsey at the end of 2014, to refer to the idea that companies which aren’t born in the digital world must be able to work in two complementary work modes, which allow them to compete on equal terms with digital native companies.

Mode 1 provides a traditional operation for the most predictable areas of the company, where robustness and reliability prevail. Mode 2, however, is a much more agile operation for areas with a greater degree of uncertainty, where speed and adaptation to the new demands of the Internet prevail.

Encouraged by this idea, many large Spanish companies have been structured around these two modes, building IT organizations of two speeds: a first speed with mainframe technologies and waterfall methodologies to take charge of the core business of the company that, supposedly, is hardly modified over time; and the second speed with open-source technologies and agile methodologies, focused on the development of mobile and front-end Web applications, under the direction of the new CDO’s.

But, to what extent has this system worked?

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Conversion Rate Optimization in eCommerce

If you ever sit at a meeting of e-tailers, you will hear the words “conversion rate” sooner than later, followed by percentages, all invariably with two decimal positions. E-tailers brag about their conversion rates like fishermen about their catches: “My conversion rate is 2.89%” or “My category [sic] of pet food converts at a 4.23%” followed by appreciative nods.

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Oh no, I hired a Scrum Master and thought it was something else!

In a recent post I explained the role of the Scrum Master and many of the tasks the role carries out. However, reflecting on what I wrote, I realized that, at times, this role is misunderstood and misused within companies.

Perhaps it is because we come from an overly hierarchical conception of the working world where we have inheritances from the past and a need to find leaders and one-person responsibilities.

This inherited culture broth is, among other factors, one of the reasons why, around the figure of the Scrum Master, false myths which are difficult to dismantle have arisen with force. In this post we explain what are the most frequent misunderstandings while trying to correct them.

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Estimates, reality or fiction?

Estimates, that great devil that sneaks into our day to day and marks us. Some of the questions that most people who are starting in the Agile world have asked me are “how do you estimate  in Agile?” or “how do you do to tell the customer how long it will take?”.

In Agile, the estimation phase has matured. We start from the fact that the software is complex and, therefore, there is uncertainty. It is impossible to know what will happen. Software professionals discover it project after project. It is something that only experience can tell us.

Let’s review the different estimation techniques and see a small analysis of each of them to better understand this phase of Agile.

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Agile & Scrum in Digital Transformation

If we search Google for “digital transformation” we find endless meanings and interpretations. It is curious that, at this point where the term is already so overused, there is no clear definition.

At Paradigma we realized the importance of the concept of digital transformation 10 years ago. We were born as a digital company and now, a decade later, after having helped multiple companies on their way to becoming digital, we dare to give our own “version” about what Digital Transformation is for us.

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30 things you should know about the Product Owner

A while ago, while debating with a teammate about the roles, artifacts and events that exist within Scrum, we realized that there are many doubts about the role of the Product Owner.

As a result of this debate, I have decided to shed some light on this profile and highlight 30 realities about the role of the Product Owner in Scrum.

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